Counters to Ice Tomb Hex


Advice


First, if you're a PC of mine and see this then know that it's been a fun game and I'm looking forward to the finale, now go away!

Are you gone? Ok then, moving on:
Hey everyone, I'm wrapping up a Kingmaker game that has gone a completely different direction than the official campaign, and the party is facing their final enemies. I've got 4 PCs left, all at 11th level. They aren't particularly optimized or wimpy, but are balanced out with some pretty good stats and equipment for their level. The characters are a hobgoblin witch, half-elf druid, dwarf inquisitor, and human monk with a dash of ninja. I'm fairly sure that the enemies are going to be quite brutal opponents and give the party a fun, challenging end to a 2 year long campaign, but I'm getting worried about the PC witch and in particular the major hex Ice Tomb trivializing what are supposed to be the two mightiest opponents.

The Witch in question is a pretty effective enemy de-buffer with the hexes Misfortune, Fortune, Evil Eye, Cackle, Flight, and the major hex Ice Tomb. The Ice Tomb hex has a base DC of 23 before possible additional troubles from Misfortune or Evil Eye, de-buff spells, and the like.

The party is level 11, and the big bads of the campaign are a group of demon-possessed enemies which is threatening their nation and the region, and which the group is taking down. The final conflict will involve two of these enemies, a sorceress and a bladesinger (arcane duelist) style bard, who I noticed have rather poor fort saves even with generous stats and equipment. This needs to be a winnable, though hard, fight so I don't want to go higher than CR 13 or so each, and I've had some nightmarishly long fights recently with 8-12 weaker enemies that have proven more annoying to PCs than challenging, so I don't want to give them a swarm of lesser allies. I am willing to modify the big bads slightly, since I haven't revealed full stats to PCs, but they can't be totally redesigned since the party has seen them before and knows some of the things they can do.

Within these limitations I'm happy to listen to advice and follow what I think will fit the enemies best: CR 15-16 hard cap, one major enemy a demon-possessed sorceress of at least 9th level, one major enemy a rapier wielding demon-possessed single blade (rapier when the party saw) and arcane magic using character, less than 6 enemies (counting the two big bads as two of these), and makes sense for the location and flavor (the Abyss and two demon possessed beings in charge). Also, the advice should not include the antagonize feat, summoners, gunslingers, or metamagic rods, since the party can't use any of these things, and the less drastic the measure the happier I am to consider it. Oh, and the final conflict is this Sunday so any advice I get after that point won't help me (though general advice could help lots of others I'm sure).

Thanks in advance for any answers here, I look forward to seeing the responses!


First of All, Ice Tomb is ridiculous! I thought Freedom of Movement might stop it, but if you fail the save you are unconscious.

Give both enemies Great Fortitude. In addition have the Sorceress cast Undead Anatomy on herself. This will turn her undead and give her Charisma to HP and Fort Saves. Have the Bladesinger read a scroll of the same. With rings of Freedom of Movement, both become immune to the effects of Paralysis and Unconsciousness that the Ice Tomb hex cause.


Tactics and preparation:

Ice tomb gets wrecked by damage. An opponent with fire shield up (a 4th level spell that the sorceress could have, or either of them UMD a scroll of) could just burn the ice tomb away.

Either could toss fireball on the area around the other if they get ice tombed.

Most hexes are short ranged. Stay out of range of the party. Use illusions to distract them and get them spending actions on non-threatening targets. The two big foes could have several low-level minions who are mostly there to absorb PC actions (since any hit will take them out).

A demon-possessed sorceress could have a few minion demons (an advanced babau?) try to grapple and tangle up the witch. Or maybe a few demon-possessed friends/allies/family members of the PCs -- someone they may not want to kill. I know you don't want a bunch of these, but 2-3 might be very useful.

One of the enemy characters could be an elf and hence immune to Slumber -- maybe when the PCs saw them earlier as non-elves they were disguised? Maybe they still are disguised, as one of their own minions? Or one of the PCs' allies?

The sorceress could have set up a _contingency_ spell ("if I get hexed, dispel magic on the hex"), or maybe have a familiar with a wand of dispel magic or something like that.

If the enemies are forcing the timing of the encounter, a few potions of owl's wisdom or bear's endurance could boost their saves during this period (if they don't already have Wis/Con enhancers).


Hmm, the sorceress is incredibly vain (possessed by a succubus, each of these possessors have fatal flaws and hers are envy and vanity) so becoming a hideous undead being is not something I'm enamored with her doing, but certainly doable if the alternative is her being just plain dead. That brings up a new question, if the enemy has freedom of movement and/or immunity to unconsciousness, what happens when they fail one of the two saves (or 4, the witch has accursed hex)? Do they end up conscious and mobile inside the ice, does freedom of movement let them move through the ice or around freely despite the layer of 6 inch thick ice coating them, or does the hex just fail to make ice at all?

Edit: the enemies are a possessed half-elf and a possessed human, but since the witch doesn't have slumber all I need to worry about is Ice Tomb. Fire shield is an interesting idea, if it can be ruled as affecting the ice, though even if the enemy manages to break the ice around them they do end up staggered for 1-4 rounds, so the ideal solution would be one that doesn't see them staggered.

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Hakka Tsadok wrote:

First of All, Ice Tomb is ridiculous! I thought Freedom of Movement might stop it, but if you fail the save you are unconscious.

Give both enemies Great Fortitude. In addition have the Sorceress cast Undead Anatomy on herself. This will turn her undead and give her Charisma to HP and Fort Saves. Have the Bladesinger read a scroll of the same. With rings of Freedom of Movement, both become immune to the effects of Paralysis and Unconsciousness that the Ice Tomb hex cause.

Good start but it won't stop them from being encased in ice.

The main weakness for Ice Tomb loving witches is that it requires line of effect to work (put the target behind a pane of glass and they are immune to the Hex) and line of sight to target (make the target invisible and they are immune to all witch hexes).

In your specific case I'd go with greater invis on the Duelist making him untargetable by the witches hexes (but still an open target for the rest of the party), while the sorceress casts wall of force between herself and the party while summoning demons (and a single Shadow Demon in the mix) and casting illusions.

The Duelist will be inflicting tremendous (but survivable) damage against the party and giving the Druid and Monk a melee target to deal with while the Witch and Inquisitor are bogged down handling the demon assault and desperately trying to bring down the Wall of force to stop the sorceress.

It should be fairly exciting, winnable and each player will get several moments to shine in the fight.


Interesting, I had definitely considered Greater Invisibility but didn't want to completely screw over the party with 2 fully invisible enemies. Having the duelist be invisible while the sorceress uses Wall of Force instead is a better idea, I had no idea that wall of force would block a witch hex. I just threw one Shadow Demon against them along with other enemy minions as they are fighting their way to the enemy, and that was an incredibly frustrating opponent. They might lynch me if I send another their way but they definitely are a demon that is a very tough fight for the party and for the final battle might be worth throwing another at them.

Edit: the witch does have glitterdust prepared, so the invisibility isn't a perfect defense, but then again I don't want a perfect defense just enough to make the fight last more than 3-4 rounds and ended in an anti-climatic fashion. If the witch has to spend a round casting glitterdust that's one round it's not setting up a 1-2 punch of misfortune+ice tomb.


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First off, that is one hell of a save by the witch. She has a 26/27 INT?

Figure out what the range of ice tomb is in your game. The general accepted range is 60', based on other major hexes, but it is not stated in the power.

Immunity to paralysis or unconsciousness; or cold resistance might help, depending on how you rule in your game. Unfortunately ice tomb is very poorly worded, so much of how it works exactly is up to GM interpretation. Fortunately, you are the GM.


I play it as Immunity to Paralysis means you simply take the damage of the Hex and nothing else.


Rathendar wrote:
I play it as Immunity to Paralysis means you simply take the damage of the Hex and nothing else.

If you were only immune to paralysis, you should still be made unconscious by the hex.

I would have immune to cold negate the damage of the hex and the secondary effects.

Immunity to paralysis or unconsciousness individually would still get you screwed by the other effect.

Immunity to both paralysis AND unconsciousness would let you just take damage.

Dark Archive

Every party ALWAYS has a glitterdust prepared which is why the bad guys are using demons and a SINGLE shadow demon. As soon as the glitterdust or other light spell gets sprung out comes the at-will deeper darkness, negates the glitterdust long enough for the duelist to retreat back to the sorceress to have it dispelled, and moves the shadow to the top of the parties attack list instead of your BBEG's.

Follow that up with a few lesser minions (that the party can wade through easy to keep them happy and involved) should stretch the fight out long enough to feel like a challenge and when the party whens they'll remember that combination of frustrating opponents and glorious carnage they got to inflict in the fight.

You want the party to win in the end and feel good about it while still having that since of desperation fighting the forces of the abyss. THOSE are the sessions players remember the most.


I think it's actually a 25 int after a headband +6 (17 base, +2 for levels if I remember right for how the witch has 19 pre-items) with the corset of dire witch-whatever that gives one hex a +2 CL to make up the 23 instead of 22 save(so CL 13 on ice tomb with 10+1/2CL+int save seems to check out as 23). I could have it wrong and it be a 20 base (18+2 for levels) with the +6 int and the corset applying to something else.

Yeah, the more I read the more poorly worded it seems, taking into account nothing and being iffy enough that I read a compelling argument on whether it can even affect objects/undead. I think 60' works for a range, until now we've just used "in sight" but the witch hasn't been abusing it from hundreds of feet away or anything. Cold resistance I didn't think about using, last session the witch iced a succubus and did no or little cold damage through resistance (can't remember exactly) but I had it iced, wish I had thought of that ahead of time since that could be another limiter.

Hmm, I guess that brings up a question, does it seem like a fair move as DM to make immunity to paralysis or immunity to unconsciousness cancel out the hex, or would that just cancel out that part of the hex and the rest (encased in 6 inches of ice at least, the other of paralysis/unconsciousness too if the enemy doesn't have both) still goes through?


Assuming a starting Int of 20 and adding the level bonuses that a 22 add on a headbad +4~6 is an easy 26~28 Int. This is ignoring ability focus for a +2. So a 10 +5 (1/2 level) +8(9) +2 means an easy 25~26 DC if wanted.

I would consider body doubles as a defense as well.

Also that is a rather low hp total (as others have mentioned) so a contingency to fireball the area upon being render unconcious might be an option.

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idilippy wrote:

I think it's actually a 25 int after a headband +6 (17 base, +2 for levels if I remember right for how the witch has 19 pre-items) with the corset of dire witch-whatever that gives one hex a +2 CL to make up the 23 instead of 22 save(so CL 13 on ice tomb with 10+1/2CL+int save seems to check out as 23). I could have it wrong and it be a 20 base (18+2 for levels) with the +6 int and the corset applying to something else.

Yeah, the more I read the more poorly worded it seems, taking into account nothing and being iffy enough that I read a compelling argument on whether it can even affect objects/undead. I think 60' works for a range, until now we've just used "in sight" but the witch hasn't been abusing it from hundreds of feet away or anything. Cold resistance I didn't think about using, last session the witch iced a succubus and did no or little cold damage through resistance (can't remember exactly) but I had it iced, wish I had thought of that ahead of time since that could be another limiter.

Hmm, I guess that brings up a question, does it seem like a fair move as DM to make immunity to paralysis or immunity to unconsciousness cancel out the hex, or would that just cancel out that part of the hex and the rest (encased in 6 inches of ice at least, the other of paralysis/unconsciousness too if the enemy doesn't have both) still goes through?

If you do decide to go the route of making those immunities work then go all out. Swap out all the demons for summoned Ice Elementals instead. Your 2 big bads, a shadow demon and 3 Ice Elementals (large) gives you a EL of 12 (13 if you ice the floor which I really think you should, force them to fly or make acrobatics checks) and is visually awesome.

You have a frozen cavern dimly lit from lights glittering off all the icicles with a sheer transparent wall ahead of them with the sorceress madly summoning something. As the party moves to engage enormous serpents made of snow and ice erupting from the slick floor of ice to engage the party frontliners and slipping back into the ice when your players attempting to bring their might to bear on them.
All this while the faint sound of metal sliding on ice is heard as the invisible duelist ice-skates around the party striking hard and skating away.
Overwhelmed the party seeks to re-group when swooping down from the ceiling is an impossibly black shadow with murder in it's eyes come for revenge on the foolish mortals who thought they had destroyed him.

THAT is a fight they'll remember forever.


tonyz wrote:


The sorceress could have set up a _contingency_ spell ("if I get hexed, dispel magic on the hex"), or maybe have a familiar with a wand of dispel magic or something like that.

That particular trick won't work - (Su) Hexes can't be dispelled.


Do the enemies know the parties abilities at all? I'm sure you don't want things to get too metagamey.

A few potions of Hex Ward might give them a bit of advantage without outright nullifying anything.
Give the sorceress a quasit familiar, who's one and only job is to stay invisible and zap all summoned allies with a wand of Hex Ward as they show up on the battlefield... and maybe a backup buff wand in case there is no one new to zap (protection from good? bulls strength?). That way, an advantage for the bad guys, that the PC's can figure out and stop!

As mentioned, the ice tomb only has 20 hp...
Add some sort of environmental damage effect that the enemy has resistance too, but will burn through the ice tomb in short order.

Hell use a contingency that causes a metamagiced lingering AE damage spell to go off around the sorceress (assuming she and nearby allies are immune to whatever element type you choose). A fireball for instance.
9th level fireball does 31 damage on average, which will nuke the ice tomb... because its lingering, the fireball will also blast any pc's that try to approach in the meanwhile... as well, the lingering effect will give the sorceress total concealment for while she melts herself free, so the PC's can't target her or see what she's up to til its all melted away. End result, yes the hex worked, but only took the sorceress out for a single round, and causes her to be slow for a few extra. So not a waste, but not a game ender.
Though the sorceress would have to be 12th level to contingency a 4th level spell (lingering fireball)

If they ice tomb the melee guy, she can just fireball him normally (and get the pc's too) for the same effect. If you assume a haste spell on him and her summoned minions, that will negate the slow from the ice tomb, so only distracts them for a round. (Again, a small effect at least) And linger that one too, just for the 1 round of sightlines all messed up.


Technically they aren't slowed they are staggered so being hasted doesn't help negate the ending effects of the ice tomb.


Have your arcane duelist use improved invisibility.

While invisible, cast blindness/deafness on the Witch during the surprise round. A blind witch is particularly screwed...and Fort is their weak save.

Spring attack and a 60' movement is a wonderful combination.

Dark Archive

I was gonna suggest becoming undead myself :-p
Not all undead are hideous either just most... I think level 11 is a fine level to take on a vampire or 2... consider it preserved beauty

Did see a lot of other good advice though, staying out of range, by such things as say flying, or keeping yourself untargetable aka invisible to the witch, are all great.


Thanks for all the advice, and please keep it coming I'm getting some great ideas out of it. The one major problem with using undead as an option is that these big bads have been built up specifically as a specific group of possessing demons. A whole side-story turned main focus is built up around the loose organization (in the demon sense, meaning they are sometimes aligned, sometimes at odds, and most of the time only loosely adhering to any organized hierarchy) of possessing fiends and the mortal vessels they inhabit. Having one of them become undead doesn't fit thematically (on a lesser note the template I'm using for the possessed beings requires a living, corporeal being to qualify).

Fire damage, and in particular environmental fire damage, could be really appropriate. The final climatic battle will be in part of the Abyss itself, I could easily have fire damage from the environment and have it fit thematically. I don't know if I'll go with that for sure but it or the AoE fireball style damaging spells are great ideas for when an enemy does get iced. Staggered for 1d4 rounds sucks but it is far better than being paralyzed and unconscious in ice.


Aztec Tomb?


Easiest thing to do is just accept that it's going to hit, and have a minion break them out. It's 20 damage to destroy the tomb, and that just leaves them staggered, which isn't the end of the world for either a sorceress or a bard.

-Cross


I say just go with it in this case. If the hex hits and they fail, have them encased in ice. A fire shield effect might be handy for melting out and having minions to attack the ice are good ideas just in case.

I just went and read a bit about demon-possessed creatures. I guess their powers depend on the demon. If your bad guys are possessed by balors they get Fiery Body, that's a lot like fire shield. Even though it only says the flames spring up when they're grappled, I would have no problem ruling that encased in ice can trigger it. A babau possession causes protective slime, which would eat away the ice as well.

While it looks like the demon cannot control the possessed NPCs if they get paralyzed or unconscious, it doesn't seem to stop them from leaving their body. I would use the melding, super-imposing kind of description, rather than the mist up the nose one, since that will stop you from worrying about whether the ice tomb is air-permeable or allows gaseous forms. Just have the newly-freed demon fade in in the trapped NPCs square.

Then it can either break the NPC loose and re-inhabit, attempt to inhabit one of the lesser NPC minions until the original possessed gets free, attempt to possess a PC, or just lay waste about it like a normal demon, depending on how tough it is. I would probably go for having it possess rather than fight, since the demon probably doesn't want to risk getting slain.

So, basically, sometimes you just have to roll the save and let it play out. You never know when one PC will fail their save against possession and get inhabited. While the demon can't control them, their alignment does change to Chaotic Evil and at that point most disturbing suggestions are probably no longer uncharacteristic.

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